Doctors at the Valley City Sanford Clinic will remain in Valley City, despite a decision by four clinic doctors to terminate their privileges at Mercy Hospital as of Aug. 1.
The four doctors who gave notice June 24 were Genevieve Govan, Dave Hochhalter, Misty Anderson and James Buhr.
Tuesday Paulette Amundson, vice president for Sanford Health regional clinics based in Fargo said “the doctors are not leaving the clinic and are working with Mercy Hospital administration to try and resolve the dispute.”
Anderson said doctors decided to resign privileges due in part to changes at the hospital making it more difficult to serve patients.
“The clinic is not closing and we will provide services as we always have,” said Linda Lane, director of clinic operations in Valley City.
Amundson said, “We have both scheduled and urgent care – walk-in – patients and appointments will be made for appropriate hospitalization.”
Hospital Administrator Keith Heuser said no specific reasons were given or stated in the notices handed to him by doctors. “They gave me a number of generalities.”
Heuser said changes in emergency room coverage as of May 1 was one one of the issues mentioned, “but changes in emergency room coverage have always been an issue for them.”
Mercy Hospital is contracting with a company called Emcare, which operates mostly in Texas, to staff its emergency room, Heuser said Wednesday.
Amundson said all Valley City Sanford Clinic doctors have privileges and credentials in emergency care and have both advanced trauma life support and advanced cardiac life support credentials.
Said Heuser Wednesday, “To the best of my knowledge Sanford doctors have the credentials as do the contracted doctors.” Heuser said having the credentials are important for doctors providing emergency room care.
Cherie Baker, regional manager for Emcare, said Wednesday all doctors it will provide to cover the Mercy Hospital emergency room will either have ATLS, ACLS and pediatric advanced life support credentials or be board certified in emergency medicine.
Anderson agreed emergency room changes were part of the reason for the doctors' decision. “If we can't be available 24/7. Changes in staffing in the emergency room – the best doctor for a patient is the one who knows the patient well. Doctors have left the community because of tense relations with the hospital.”
Heuser said business pressures and other issues made the change in emergency room staffing necessary, and he doubts the staffing change will be reversed. “Staffing in the (emergency room) is not just a doctor issue. It is highly unlikely staffing in the emergency room will change.”
Heuser added, “the board is more than willing to meet (with doctors) on a more regular basis” to discuss concerns. Amundson said Sanford doctors plan to continue discussions with the hospital board to try and work out any disagreements.